84 days until school starts.

And with one question at your first staff meeting you can set a very different tone.

I suggest an experiment for those in leadership positions. Instead of your traditional “blah blah logistics blah blah” back-to-school speech, how would staff respond differently if you began the year with, “What self-care can you give yourself this year?”

This one question, which you don’t even answer, conveys a level of trust in their professionalism, value in their service, and interest in their well-being. No one is going to disagree that their job is difficult, emotionally taxing, or physically draining.

Skip over any platitudes you may feel compelled to share. Skip over ignoring the obvious anxiety many feel about returning to challenging student needs. Head straight to the compassionate and insightful question.

And then be quiet.

Really. Like 90 seconds of silence quiet. When a question hangs in the air, the full weight of it bears down.

And then, quietly, listen. Not active listening where you parrot back to them a version of what they said. Just listen.

Maybe some of their ideas will make you laugh.

Others will inspire your own interests.

But I guarantee that everyone will leave noting THAT meeting was different. They’ll like how human, compassionate, and thoughtful the conversation was. And perhaps how great it was to have a conversation about our own well-being and that didn’t even bring up kids.

Sure, many of you are rolling your eyes at such a preposterous idea. The agenda is already too large and time too limited! There’s no way you could do such an exercise. And I know these good folks will get through their agenda.

And that’s great.

But I believe, those that ask this one question will leave with inspired followers.

And that can be great for kids.

When people feel understood and cared about, they will crave your agenda.

one Question